Saturday, September 27, 2014

Basic Book Promotion

Carl Purdon
My New Business Card
How can I get people to buy my book? It's a question on almost every author's mind. We've all clicked those links, you know the ones -- the links that promise answers that don't exist. Even though we know there is no magic answer, we still click.

We click because we think we've written the next bestseller (if you don't think that about your book then why did you publish it?) but we can't figure out how to let people know.

Family and friends, co-workers, Facebook acquaintances, these are all great first steps, but unless you are already famous, you simply don't know enough people for Amazon to notice. Millions, maybe billions, of people flock to Amazon. They buy books, but how do they know your book exists? If it's not on the charts, they won't, unless someone tells them.

Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools a writer can have, so every new reader puts you one step closer to your goal. Most readers may be surprised to know this, but even the simplest mention of your book (assuming they enjoyed it) sends the author into orbit and makes him or her that much more dedicated to writing something new. Writers are sensitive by nature. We crave feedback. Readers are our lifeblood. They are what make us sit for countless hours driving ourselves crazy for just the right way to make that next sentence pop (that's how novels are born -- one sentence at a time).

Every writer should have a website -- somewhere people can go to get all the information they need about you and your books. Provide an easy way for people to contact you. Facebook is also one of the fundamentals. An author needs not just a personal Facebook profile, but a Facebook Page (the business version of Facebook). Then there's Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the list goes on and on.

Over the last few days I came to realize I've been overlooking another basic promotion tool. One of the most basic, in fact. A tool almost as old as business itself. What is it you ask? A simple business card. Yep, I've been trying to sell books since 2012 and have never had a business card. I corrected that this morning thanks to the ease of creating almost any promotional item on VistaPrint. The hard part is coming up with something catchy, which I hope I accomplished.

There is no magic bullet that will rocket your book to the top of the charts. Writing is an art. Marketing is pure business.

What is your marketing strategy?

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Carl Purdon is the author of The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders. He can be found most days on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

God Made Fall For Writers

Summer is the season for fun, at least that's what songs and television commercials tell us. Summer a time to be outdoors, enjoying life with minimal clothing. Summer is the time of bikinis and beach volleyball and vacations to the coast.

Summer is hot.

Fall At My House
When I was a boy, I couldn't wait for it to warm up enough that daddy would let us go outside barefoot. Once he said yes, my brother and sisters and I would shuck our shoes and forget them until late fall, except for school, town, and church. It seems every summer I stepped on at least one rusty nail and scores of honeybees. Our back yard was covered with clover, but we navigated it barefoot each and every day. Stings and tetanus shots were part of summer in the South. Shoes were not.

It's funny, but I don't remember summers being so hot back then. They were, I'm sure. I not one of these people who buy into man-made global warming. No, my theory is that we didn't notice the heat because we were always outside. We didn't have video games or cell phones. We had bicycles and motorcycles, and dirt clods to throw at each other when daddy broke up the garden with the tractor. You don't notice the sweat during a good dirt clod fight.

For the past fifteen years I've worked mostly at a desk in an air-conditioned office. A man becomes accustomed to air with the humidity pumped out. When he goes outside, he notices the heat in a big way. Same thing for kids, I suppose, when they lay up all day playing Nintendo or watching 100+ channels on cable.

I'll let you in on another secret: old people don't look that great in bathing suits. These days, when my wife and I go to the beach, I have enough sympathy for the other beach-goers to wear a shirt. She still looks great, but I've packed on a few pounds.

No, I've come to the conclusion that summer is for young people. They can have it. I'll just sit back in my recliner with the air-conditioner blowing and wait it out.

I like fall because the weather is mild. I can go outside and sit without being eaten alive by gnats and mosquitos and horseflies. My wife and I can sit in the porch swing and hold hands and look out at the lake without sweat rolling down our faces. We can sip coffee early in the morning and let hot caffeine  warm our insides. Sometimes on an especially cool morning, we may catch a whiff of smoke from a neighbor's chimney. There may be no better smell in the world than chimney smoke on a cool morning.

Fall is the season of pretty colors. Leaves change, then fall to the ground and cover grass I don't have to mow again for months. Fall is a time for peaceful reflection. It's the best time of year to take a vacation to Gatlinburg (which we are doing in October!). It's also my favorite time to write.

Thanks to my MacBook with Retina Display, I can sit outside in quiet solitude and write without straining to see the words on my screen. We live out in the country, so it is quiet. Tranquil.

God made the world and he made all four seasons. Of that I am sure, but I'm equally sure He made fall for writers. Winter is for editing and revising. Spring is for publishing. Summer is for finding excuses not to write, but fall ... there's no excuses for not writing in the fall.

What is your favorite season?

* * *

Carl Purdon is the author of The Night Train, Norton Road, and Blinders, available in ebook and paperback. For signed copies, visit his website for ordering information

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yeah, We Did Selfies

I was looking through a box of old pictures and ran across an old selfie I took circa 1993. You can't tell from the picture, but I was actually riding my motorcycle along a highway somewhere in Ohio. Ohio is one of the few states which still doesn't have a helmet law.

Distracted driving? Yes. Do I recommend anyone else doing it? No, of course not. It was incredibly stupid, especially given the fact that I was using an old film camera propped up between the handlebars, but I was young back then, and bulletproof. Or so I thought.

You see, since I was old enough to remember, I knew I was going to write novels someday. I believed it so much that I actually thought nothing could kill me until I had written at least two. Don't laugh, I believed it. Maybe it was true, because I did a lot of really stupid stuff.

I'm more careful now. I have to be because I've written three novels. Maybe you've read them.

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Carl Purdon writes novels he describes as Homegrown Fiction. Visit his website and see what you're missing.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Life is Like a NASCAR Race

I've blogged before about realizing your potential and reaching beyond it. No doubt you've heard always give 110 percent, though, like me, you may wonder if it's possible to give more than 100
Even Frogs Read
percent. But let's not get bogged down in semantics.

This past Sunday I sat recliner-bound, watching the NASCAR race as I do most Sundays. One of my favorite parts of a race is the after-race driver interviews. Drivers at that point haven't had time to decelerate from the heart-pounding pace they've been on for the past three or four hours, so they tend to be candid. In short, they speak their minds and we, the fans, get a glimpse of who they are mad at and why. Who among us doesn't enjoy seeing our sports heroes mix it up a bit?

Sometimes you'll hear a driver say he finished better than he should have. He may have finished tenth yet he is all smiles because his car was a top fifteen car at best. Next week he may finish seventh and be upset because his car was better than his finish.

Not every driver can be Jimmie Johnson (google that if you don't know who he is and what he has accomplished in a race car). Racing is a team sport. Just like a quarterback can't win a football game on his own, a driver can't win a race without a solid team effort and almost-perfect equipment. Even the smallest mistake can mean the difference in winning and losing (in NASCAR, losing begins with the driver who crosses the finish line second).

I don't recall which driver said it this past Sunday. It doesn't matter. Each week it's someone different. I took a twelfth place car and put it in the top ten. What did he mean by that, and why is that a life lesson?